After finishing 5-7 last season and an abysmal 1-6 in conference play, Syracuse was picked to finish seventh out of the eight team Big East at Big East Media Day on Tuesday. But, as SU players were quick to note, games are won during the regular season and not during preseason polls.
Like many seasons in the past, the Orange are adopting an underdog mentality.
“In 2010, we won all of our games on the road,” tackle Justin Pugh said. “We embrace (the underdog status). We love that.”
That team went on to finish 8-5 (4-3 Big East) and participated in a Bowl Game for the first time since the 2004 season. Last year, SU was picked to finish fourth, and fell well short of that expectation.
“I want everyone to say I’m a bad player and then go out and prove everyone wrong,” Pugh said. “That’s the mentality we’re going to take heading into the season. A lot of people were overlooked. A lot of guys feel they were snubbed by other programs.”
Louisville received 24 of 28 first place votes from the media to receive the top preseason rankings. South Florida received the other four votes for second place. The rest of the conference was rounded out by Rutgers, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Syracuse and Temple.
Can Syracuse beat its preseason ranking? It’s certainly possible with the return of quarterback Ryan Nassib, now in his third season as a starter and a deep receiving core that includes Alec Lemon.
“As a unit and inside the team, we respect each other and feel confident we can do big things this year,” Lemon said. “We just keep that with the media. That doesn’t really affect us because we know what we can do and we’re ready to go out and show everyone.”
For now, the Orange can only focus on its next game.
“We’re excited about the challenges we have this year,” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. “We have to get better, and we have a lot to prove.”